REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS WHIPLASH
Blue Devil is one of the more peculiar characters in the DC Universe. His stories started out as perhaps slightly tongue-in-cheek, or at least moderately light-hearted despite the unusual circumstances of the character, and have become increasingly dark and supernatural over the years. I haven't followed the character all that closely, but he's been reasonably prominent from time to time, and his most classic (and in my opinion, best) incarnation has recently been added to Mattel's excellent line of DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS action figures.
Blue Devil first appeared in a preview story published in the comic book Fury of Firestorm #24, in 1984. That led directly into his first self-titled issue, which was also released in June of 1984. The character was created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Paris Cullins.
Blue Devil is Daniel Cassidy, a special effects wizard and stuntman hired to play the title character in a movie called "Blue Devil". To that end, Cassidy created a full-body costume with a hidden powered exo-skeleton and built-in special effects devices. When two of his co-stars accidentally freed a demon named Nebiros, Cassidy used his costume to drive the demon back, but not before being blasted by a form of mystical energy. After the fight, Cassidy finds that the blast had permanently grafted him to the Blue Devil costume.
Cassidy, although never stopping to find a way to remove the costume, quickly finds himself embroiled in repeated adventures and conflicts with super-villains, regarding that his altered state has somehow rendered him a "weirdness magnet". Cassidy starts to enjoy his new life, and becomes increasingly comfortable in the role of super-hero, even accepting a place in the Justice League of America.
Years later, seeking more fame and thrills, Blue Devil is approached by the demonic Neron, in the "Underworld Unleashed" story, who offers Cassidy fame as an actor, something which Cassidy has always sought, but which has proven elusive, especially since he was transformed into his big blue form. Cassidy reluctantly accepts. Neron demands a seemingly meaningless act of destruction as payment, and orders Cassidy to destroy an unmanned electrical substation in the desert.
Cassidy initially believes this to be a relatively harmless act, but doesn't realize that his longtime friend, agent, and producer is in a helicopter in the area seeking locations for a forthcoming movie. The copter becomes twisted in unseen power lines due to a power failure caused by the destruction of the power station, and the woman is killed in the crash.
Offers from other agents and studios pour in to Cassidy, seeing the entire tragic tale as potential movie gold. Cassidy realizes just how badly he's been tricked, and is among the heroes that oppose Neron. He is seemingly killed, but is restored to life in an actual demon-like form, no longer a man in a cybernetic suit.
Blue Devil rejoins the Justice League, but is seemingly killed again, but is once again restored, this time by Sebastian Faust. He is finally able to confront the demon Nebiros who trapped him in the original suit, and subsequently joins with a group called the Sentinels of Magic.
Sometime later, during the "Day of Vengeance" series that precedes the Infinite Crisis storyline, Blue Devil is working as a bouncer in the Oblivion Bar, an interdimensional meeting place for beings who utilize various forms of magic. Here he is recruited by Ragman and others to fight against the deranged Spectre. This group eventually becomes known as Shadowpact, tending to seeming lost causes with magical overtones.
On the heels of the "One Year Later" jump, Blue Devil and the rest of Shadowpact have spent the "missing year" in Riverrock, Wyoming, a small city hidden by an assembly of evil magical beings. In order to shatter the magical barrier, Shadowpact member Enchantress had to "steal a year" from the lives of each team member. As such, the entire world thought the team lost, even building a memorial statue to them. Having been considered dead for a year, Blue Devil struggles to rebuild his life.
This includes trying to deal with his demonic status by hiring a lawyer and actually confronting Hell in a hall of justice. Blue Devil undertakes the completion of 13 labors, not unlike the mythical Hercules, on behalf of the Church as a show of good will. He returns for a final hearing, only to discover that a being called Jack of Fire has been pulling a lot of the strings in Cassidy's life. His lawyer proves that this being is the only one who can return Cassidy's soul, and those of his family. Cassidy is able to force Jack to do so, but in the process, he is reverted back to human form.
Jack of Fire then turns up allied with a massively powerful being called Sun God, with plans to lead an army of demons against the Earth. Cassidy feels obliged to don a new suit of armor, very similar to the original, but far more powerful. As the result of a subsequent confrontation, Blue Devil regains all of his previous powers, but without losing his soul in the process.
Most recently, he took part in the "Blackest Night" storyline, trying to take on the Black Lantern Spectre -- and not faring very well.
Blue Devil has also turned up in a couple of episodes of Justice League Unlimited, in his original costume, which also warranted him a figure in the Justice League Unlimited line a while back.
As to his powers and abilities: Even before he became Blue Devil, Dan Cassidy was a highly trained martial artist and acrobat. His costume included Kevlar body armor, visual and auditory amplifiers, radio gear, mini-gills allowing underwater breathing, and servo-motors which increased his strength at least twenty-fold. After being grafted to Cassidy's body the costume became organic and gained the ability to self-repair at an extremely fast rate, essentially a healing factor.
So, how's his DC Universe Classics figure? Superb! For one thing, it presents Blue Devil in his most classic outfit, which I appreciate. All of this increasingly supernatural demonic stuff was a little too weird for my tastes, and honestly, I didn't much care for the various redesigns. In "Day of Vengeance", Blue Devil looked sort of like his classic self, but he was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. Must be taking fashion tips from Superboy.
But the Blue Devil figure definitely goes back to the early days of the character. In this form, Blue Devil appears to be a light-blue-skinned humanoid with some interesting characteristics. It was established early on that the costume-like elements of the Blue Devil exo-suit were separate from the basic humanoid form. Take a look in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and you can see Blue Devil lounging on a beach, wearing a pair of swimming trunks. I have no idea what he hoped to accomplish. I mean, can someone with this complexion get a TAN!? Is the suit even designed to do that?
Blue Devil's unusual characteristics are mostly on his head. Most notable are two almost comically-large pale gray horns that protrude from the forehead. On the figure, these are surprisingly rigid. This was especially surprising after the blade-like accessory I encountered with the Blue Beetle figure in this same assortment.
These days, DC Universe Classics figures come packaged with a little pinback button with a comic image on it. This has resulted in the line being marketed as an "adult collectible", and a warning sticker being placed on the package about a "functional sharp point", referring to the pin on the button. Offhand, I'd say this particular toy has a couple more sharp points on it, and they're on Blue Devil's head.
This isn't a criticism. It doesn't really bother me one way or the other. But I do wonder if those in charge of safety regulations might have an issue with this. Then again, safety regulations have gotten so out of hand that I'm surprised we have anything sturdier on children's playgrounds than shaving foam or jello.
Blue Devil also has very large, pointed ears, that would probably be enough to make Spock laugh. There's an earring in the left ear. His facial features are relatively human, light blue coloration notwithstanding. He has fairly thick eyebrows, reddish irises to his eyes, and two tufts of beard to either side of his chin. The face actually has a rather friendly smile to it. This was one thing about Cassidy's personality. He tended to be surprisingly accepting of his circumstances for the most part.
The overall design of the figure is based on the standard male body mold that Mattel has created for this line. I have to say that I sincerely appreciate the remarkable level of consistency that this affords the line. However, Blue Devil's costume is such that some custom parts had to be designed, including the upper torso, lower arms, and lower legs.
If one takes Blue Devil's light blue areas as "skin", the accuracy of that statement being likely rather debatable, then the costume per se is rather minimal. Of course, if we consider the fact that this was originally designed for a movie, within the DC Universe, then it's reasonable to assume that the movie is going to want to show off the entirety of the "look" of Blue Devil, blue skin, costume, and all. It makes little sense to create a full, humanoid exoskeleton and then overdress it.
Blue Devil's costume consists of what could probably best be described as a sort of vest, in dark blue, which has flared shoulders. Two wide straps start at the belt on the front, go over the shoulders, and unite behind the back into one wide strip, which tapers down to the belt. It's somehow tight-fitting like a super-hero costume. The vest has a fairly high yellow collar.
Blue Devil's costume has a wide yellow belt, and blue trunks with a wide yellow stripe down the front and back. Little horn-like designs can be seen above the belt on the front and back, also in yellow, and the shorts are bordered in yellow at the top of the legs.
This raises an interesting point -- how anatomically precise is the exo-suit? I mean, Cassidy is trapped in this thing! And the outer costume does have trunks. Mystic bolt or no, certain things have to be taken care of. Granted, those "certain things" don't generally get much play in comic books (fortunately!), and I honestly have no idea if the matter was addressed in Blue Devil's own title, but still -- one does wonder every so often. I mean, it took them a while to figure out a way for astronauts to -- and they were pretty much stuck in their suits, and -- well, anyway...
Blue Devil isn't so much wearing gloves as he's wearing gauntlets that leave his hands bare. These gauntlets are dark blue, with fold-over yellow cuffs. Of course, this is what required the manufacture of distinctive lower arm pieces for the figure.
Similarly, Blue Devil's boots, although entire boots that cover his feet and do not leave them exposed, also have fold over yellow cuffs, so they, too, had to be made specifically for this figure. There are other DC Universe characters that have had cuffed boots, but Blue Devil's cuffs have little notches in the side, requiring distinctive molds to be made. Credit to Mattel for maintaining precision accuracy here.
One curious thing. The copyright date on the back of the figure reads "08". Presumably this means that the "standard" body parts that this figure uses are from a set of molds from 2008. Usually, Mattel at least updates the date in their molds. I have certainly seen 2009 and 2010. I don't know if this means that Mattel has crafted an entirely new set of molds, preventing the previous one from wearing out excessively, or really what the situation is. It did surprise me a bit. However, the molds are still perfectly viable. The figure is excellent in the detail department, and all of the articulation is sturdy, moves well, not too loose, not too tight. I'm always a little nervous about this sort of thing. But Blue Devil is truly superb in this regard.
Of course, Blue Devil has the full and excellent range of articulation that one expects from a DC Universe Classics figure. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
Overall paint detail is excellent, although there's a few areas where the yellow has been sprayed onto the dark blue that could've been a little neater. However, I am a little more forgiving of this than usual, for two reasons. First of all, spraying a lighter color of paint onto a darker color of plastic is not the easiest thing in the world to accomplish effectively. Secondly, for some reason, yellow onto a darker color seems to be especially troublesome. I have any number of action figures from any number of action figure lines, from more than a few companies, where the color yellow has had to be sprayed on dark blue, dark grey, black, dark brown -- whatever -- and you can tell virtually every time that it was really problematic for the manufacturer. I don't know why. I have a decent understanding of colors and paints, and I have no explanation for it. But it is fact.
And in the case of Blue Devil, it's probably nothing I can't touch up, either, if I feel like it.
Blue Devil comes with an accessory, a gold trident. Now, he's had several tridents over the course of his career, some of them, like himself, more supernaturally-inspired than others. Offhand, I am of the opinion that this is a more technological trident, because it not only looks like it, but it also looks exactly like the trident that Blue Devil is holding on the cover of the first issue of his comic book. It makes sense -- classic Blue Devil, classic trident. Among various features, this trident also had rocket engines capable of carrying two people at high speed. Assuming you hung on real tight, one assumes.
So, what's my final word here? I'm impressed. Blue Devil may have never been that major a player in the DC Universe, but he's had some impact, and certainly Mattel has sown that they're not afraid to bring obscure characters into the growing DC Universe Classics line, which pleases me immensely, of course.
Blue Devil is an excellent figure that is a superb likeness of the classic (and in my opinion, best) version of the character, and it blends in seamlessly with the rest of the DC Universe Classics line. The design and detail are excellent, the headsculpt a superb rendition, and the overall results are extremely impressive.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of BLUE DEVIL definitely has my highest recommendation!